Ah, John Green. It’s been too long.
This book wrecked me. 100%, no question. I am destroyed. Looking for Alaska didn’t break me, nor did The Fault In Our Stars. This book, however . . . this one hit me.
At the center of Green’s latest novel is Aza, a high schooler who suffers from severe OCD and anxiety. Yes, this is another book in which Green explores a Teen with a serious, debilitating illness. However, this story and character felt much more real than the main players or plot of The Fault in Our Stars (a book I did not much care for, I am sorry to say). This story doesn’t feel hokey or hackneyed, and I was honestly a little shocked by that. I love Green, but he can lay on the cheese a bit thick. All the characters and situations in this novel felt real. Every punch landed perfectly. And I think that’s because Green famously suffered a mental breakdown back in 2015, after the major success of his novels and movie adaptations. In recent interviews he has said he went through a long period when he thought he would never write again. This novel was born of those years, and it shows. This thing is friggin’ brutal. I finished it with tears in my eyes, to say the least.
I really cannot get over how well Green wrote about mental illness. A large struggle within the story is Aza’s relationship with her medication — she feels trapped into taking it, and she wants to be normal on her own. She does not want to have to live out of a bottle. Man, I relate to that sentiment. Her frustrations, her feelings of inadequacy, the moments when her anxiety gets in the way of the mystery she and her friend Daisy are trying to solve . . . all spot on.
I know this isn’t much of a review, but I don’t want to risk spoiling anything for those who haven’t read this book yet. If you’re a fan of John Green, what are you waiting for? And if you did not care for The Fault in Our Stars (like yours truly), give this one a shot.
Read for ‘Amateur Sleuth’ in Halloween Bingo.